Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has concluded a a review of Treasurer Dennis Milligan’s illegal hiring of a first cousin with an agreement that Miligan will pay the maximum civil penalty of $1,000.
Milligan also said later he’d reimburse the state for money paid his cousin before he left the state payroll.
“I have concluded my investigation of Treasurer of State Milligan. As a result of my findings, Treasurer Milligan has agreed to a settlement agreement. He has signed the agreement with my office and will pay the maximum civil penalty of $1,000. Although the agreement gives Treasurer Milligan until April 6, 2015 to pay the penalty, he elected to pay the fine upon signing the settlement. This payment will be deposited to the General Revenue Fund Account of the State Apportionment Fund. Treasurer Milligan has met the requirements set forth in the settlement, and I now consider this matter resolved.”
The Arkansas Blog first reported that Milligan had hired his first cousin Sam Swayze for $63,000 as an investment manager. He said he’d learned later about an anti-nepotism statute that covered first cousins and Swayze left the job after about a month.
After we discovered the situation, Milligan asked Rutledge, a Republican like Milligan, to review. Two aspects of state law apply. There’s a civil penalty for an illegal hire. But there’s also a misdemeanor criminal statute. Rutledge has no prosecutorial powers. I’ve asked Pulaski Prosecutor Larry Jegley if the settlement resolves the matter from his point of view.
Milligan issued this statement:
During my campaign for State Treasurer, I promised the people of Arkansas I would follow the law and above that do what is right in order to restore integrity and accountability to the Treasurer of State’s office. In the early days of my administration, a hiring mistake was made. Today, I have signed an agreement with the Attorney General’s office and paid a $1,000 civil penalty. To make things right with the hard working taxpayers of Arkansas, I have voluntarily reimbursed the state for the full amount of Sam Swayze’s gross salary, $6,941.62.
Once again, I apologize to my family, my staff and more importantly, the people of Arkansas. As a result of our internal review, I ordered the implementation of a new policy and procedure to ensure this does not happen again. These steps: the self-reported disclosure of the mistake, my public apology and paying both a civil penalty and fully reimbursing the taxpayer’s money back to them, will hopefully close this issue and allow us to get back to the job of governing.
While cooperating with the Attorney General’s review, my administration has shown it is going to be more transparent than previous Treasurers by making more information about the business of the office available on my official website. We have already seen some exciting early results in the new investing strategy with our short term investments. We are aggressively promoting the wonderful AR GIFT 529 program parents can use to save for their child’s education beyond high school.”
A spokesman for Milligan said both payments would come from his personal funds.